History and Goals

The Coalition for Equitable Water Flow (CEWF) is a volunteer organization that was formed in August 2006. Its goal is to represent the interests of the more than 30,000 Ontario taxpayers who own residential shoreline property on 55 lakes that feed all the way down into the Trent Canal, the water levels of which are controlled by the Trent Severn Waterway.

Of these 55 lakes, 35 are ‘reservoir lakes’ and 20 are ‘flow-through lakes’ which are known collectively as the Reservoir and Flow-through Lakes, or ‘RaFT lakes’. These lakes are within the Haliburton Sector of the Trent River watershed. The sub-watersheds in the Sector are associated with the following rivers and creeks: Gull River, Burnt River, Mississauga River, Nogies Creek, Eel’s Creek, and Jack’s Creek.

Membership in the Coalition is open to Lake Associations, or equivalent organizations, in the Sector. The operations of CEWF are handled by an Executive Committee which represents its membership  with TSW, local municipalities, and both the provincial and federal governments, where appropriate. The municipalities CEWF works with include the townships of Algonquin Highlands, Dysart et al, Highlands East and Minden Hills in Haliburton County; and both North Kawartha and Trent Lakes in Peterborough County.

The Coalition was initially formed to provide a voice for reservoir and flow-through property owners into the work of a group called ‘The Panel on the Future of the Trent- Severn Waterway’. Coalition members were concerned with the impact of a number of TSW water management decisions on the reservoir and flow-through (RAFT) lakes.

Members were especially concerned that low water levels on some of the reservoir lakes, coupled with rapid drops in the water levels in August and September, were not only resulting in a curtailed navigation season; but that continued fluctuating water levels were causing significant ecological impacts. These areas of concern include equitable drawdown, safe navigation, fisheries sustainability, economic sustainability and the avoidance of negative environmental and economic impacts. There were also growing concerns about the deteriorating state of the TSW infrastructure and the potential for public safety problems. As such, a singular representative voice allowed for these issues to be effectively presented to the TSW for consideration and action.

CEWF has been a steadfast participant in promoting integrated water management across the entire Trent River watershed by working closely with TSW to ensure the RaFT lakes needs and concerns are fully understood. To do this, CEWF maintains regular dialogue with TSW management through frequent contact with the Water Management manager, and through in-person or virtual meetings with the Director of the Ontario Waterways Unit of Parks Canada. CEWF also liaises with appropriate federal, provincial, and municipal authorities including TSW/Parks Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry.

The CEWF promotes a broader understanding of the watershed, its flow, challenges, and management via its website, its Latest News feature, its Archives, and through presentations to lake associations and other groups. The CEWF focus is on ensuring that TSW understands the needs of RaFT property owners and the impacts of fluctuating water levels on the RaFT lakes.

CEWF believes that after working closely with TSW management over the last 15 years, water management is more responsive to the interests of all stakeholders in the watershed, particularly the RaFT lakes.

In 2016, the CEWF joined with the six local municipalities in Haliburton and northern Peterborough Counties to form a new group called the Upper Trent Water Management Partnership (UTWMP). This group complements CEWF’s efforts by including the interests of property owners in both regions when working with Federal and Provincial agencies on watershed issues.

To see a diagram of what flows into where, click here.

To better understand how and why the water fluctuates, click here.